Scientists discovered a perfectly formed dinosaur embryo lying in a storage cabinet at a Chinese museum.
The embryo sat in the closet for over a decade, without anyone realizing that the egg could help reveal an incredible connection between modern birds and dinosaurs.
The unborn specimen, discovered in 2015, is an oviraptorosaur (a group of Osterich-like feathered maniraptoran dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period), which was estimated to be up to 72 million years old after analysis.
It was first found in Shahe Industrial Park in 2000 and donated to the Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum in Nan’an, China.
As expected, the embryo was tiny, just 27cm long.
At that time, the embryo was called “Baby Yingliang” and went down in history as one of the most complete dinosaur embryos ever found.
The position of the embryo was particularly interesting to the scientists because it was different from others they had seen.
The embryo was later named Baby Yingliang. Photo credit: Lida Xing
A 2021 study conducted by the University of Birmingham and the China University of Geosciences (Beijing) described the embryo as adopting a bird-like posture, as its head was under the body, feet on either side, and its back was curled along the blunt end of the egg.
This is called “tucking” – something associated with modern birds.
The 2021 study said such posture “has not previously been recognized in a non-avian dinosaur but is reminiscent of a modern late-stage avian embryo.”
“This small prenatal dinosaur looks exactly like a baby bird curled up in its egg, providing further evidence that many features characteristic of modern-day birds first evolved in their dinosaur ancestors,” said Professor Steve Brusatte of from the University of Edinburgh, who was involved in the study The research team.
Brusatte further described Baby Yingliang as “one of the most beautiful fossils I have ever seen.”
The fossil was first discovered in 2000. Photo credit: Wang Dongming/China News Service via Getty Images
Fion Waisum Ma, joint first author and PhD student at the University of Birmingham, added at the time: “We are delighted with the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang’ – it is preserved in excellent condition and helps us answer many questions” about it Growth and reproduction of dinosaurs.
“It is interesting to see how this dinosaur embryo and a chicken embryo pose in a similar manner in the egg, possibly indicating similar behavior before hatching.”
Source : www.unilad.com